by Pastor David Groendyk
Moab was another enemy nation of Israel, but this enemy, as opposed to Egypt and Philistia, was made up of Israel’s distant cousins. The country of Moab has its origins in Genesis 19:30–38. A baby boy named Moab was born to one of Lot’s daughters after she had seduced her own father and tricked him into laying with her. Moab’s inauspicious beginnings were a sign of the relationship they would have with Israel. Numbers 22–24 might be a familiar story to some. Just as Israel is getting ready to enter the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the king of Moab hires Balaam to pronounce a curse on Israel. In Deuteronomy 23:3–6, God specifically forbids the Moabites and Ammonites from ever entering the assembly of the Lord because they didn’t help Israel but tried to curse them through Balaam. However, rather than run through the litany of Moab’s failures and what they did to deserve the oracle of judgment in our chapter today, let’s use our text to examine ourselves. Besides remembering that God will crush our enemies, we also learn in this text the kinds of things that are evil in God’s sight. Let’s use that as a guide to identify, confess, and turn from our own sins. As you read through this prayer, take some time to pause in between each sentence or two and add your own words.
“O Lord of armies, my God (v. 1), you are the destroyer of kings and presidents, armies and cities, strongholds and false gods (vv. 8, 21–25, 35). In a single breath, the blink of an eye, you could empty this world like a vessel and break it to pieces (v. 12). You are the Almighty One. And I confess my sin to you and the things I’ve done that exalt myself over you. I have trusted in my own works and treasures to keep me safe and give me good things (v. 7). I lean on the things that I have built up in this life for security and pleasure rather than leaning on you for those things. I have been slack in doing the work of the Lord (v. 10). I have been slow in growing in holiness and righteousness, thinking that it doesn’t matter all that much or assuming that I have plenty of time to grow. I have chased after and chosen an easy life simply for the comfort (v. 11). I choose complacency and indifference because I forget that you care and have an opinion about everything I do in my life. I have treated my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord as a derision and wagged my head at them (v. 27). I’ve mocked and hated and scoffed at fellow children of God and image-bearers of Christ. I so often do not treat my fellow humans—believers and unbelievers alike—as precious or valuable in your sight. Pride, loftiness, and arrogance infest my heart (v. 29). I cannot escape my own selfish desires or my inclination to seek my own glory and recognition and reputation. I reign over my own life rather than letting you reign over my life. I love to boast in my achievements and be proud of myself rather than immediately expressing gratitude to you (v. 30). I’m so good at boasting in the smallest things, even though I have no reason to boast in myself, knowing that nothing good happens in my life unless you give it as a gift. I place so many other things as priorities in my life over you and sacrifice to those gods rather than you (v. 35). I do not prioritize worshiping you and resting on Sundays; I do not prioritize feeding on your Word and speaking with you in prayer during the week; I do not prioritize spiritual matters. Instead, I have chased after riches that I know are only temporary and will surely perish (v. 36). Forgive me, O God, for magnifying myself in my own life rather than magnifying you (v. 42). Help me to mourn over my sin and turn from it now, lest I spend eternity mourning the judgment I’ve deserved (vv. 37–39).”
But this chapter is not just mourning and judgment. There is tremendous hope at the end of this chapter. God has certainly promised judgment for this people; fire will come down to destroy the forehead of Moab (v. 45), just as he promised a star and a king to come from Israel to crush the forehead of Moab in Balaam’s day (Num. 24:17). (That’ll ultimately be Jesus, in case you’re wondering.) But there is also salvation and hope in Moab’s future. (Also fulfilled in Jesus!) As ugly and as many as the sins are for Moab and for us, the fortunes of sinners can be restored. God welcomes sinners with open arms when they turn from their sin and cling to Christ as their only hope of salvation. Trust in Christ! And you will no longer be an enemy of God with the guillotine hanging over your head, but a son or daughter who lives in his house and sits at his table forever. Do you need proof that God welcomes these kinds of awful sinners? Remember the story of Ruth. She was a Moabite woman who never should’ve been welcomed into the assembly of God after the promise of Deuteronomy 23:3. But Ruth was the eleventh generation of Moabite from that command and chosen by God to enter the people of God. Even the enemy Moabites could point to that hope of salvation. That hope is yours as well if you trust in Christ.